Why are room acoustics important?

Poor room acoustics have a negative effect on how the room or space sounds. A poorly designed room will impact on those within the room and therefore ensuring that the acoustic design meets the expectations of the user, is an integral part of building design.
Acoustic performance within a room can be affected by:
– Noise Break In from other rooms or external sources (sound insulation)
– Noise Break Out from the room to other rooms or externally (sound insulation)
– Reverberation, sound reflecting from hard surfaces within the room
– Mechanical noise from plant or equipment within the room

Poor acoustic design can cause the following health and well-being issues for the people using the room:
– Sleep deprivation
– Poor speech intelligibility
– Cognitive issues
– Stress and Anxiety
– Productivity issues
– Loss of revenue

Who does it affect?

Incorrectly designed rooms, or using a space designed for another purpose can affect everyone both within and outside the room.

For areas requiring privacy it is necessary that the construction prevents sound from entering or leaving a space, by any means and can include walls, doors, glazing and air-conditioning ducts.
Imagine having a consultation with your Doctor and then realising the people in the waiting room can hear the contents of your conversation.

Where speech intelligibility is a key requirement then the room needs to be designed with surfaces that are not hard and can reflect sound, usually through the use of affixing acoustic panels to the walls or ceilings in order to reduce reverberation to satisfactory levels.

Some spaces such as cinemas may require both sound insulation and reverberation to be taken into account.

Acoustic Wall Panels | Acoustic Products |Building Bulletin 93 (BB93) in Sports Halls

The cost of poor room acoustics

Failing to design or understand room acoustics correctly does have a negative effect on those using the room or space. The effect of a poorly designed room or building can lead to:

– Losing staff to sickness as a result of stress or anxiety impacts a business through loss of productivity and the expense of temporary staff.
– The inability for those using the room to correctly understand speech or communicate effectively.
– Poor cognitive response due to the lack of speech intelligibility.
– Complaints and loss of credibility
– Loss of revenue (reduced repeat customers, bad reputation for suitablity of space etc)
– The cost of undertaking remedial action in both financial and time constraints.
– Additional cost for providing PPE, that could be avoided.
– Fines or compensation claims

Understanding what a room or how a space is to be used for is critical in ensuring the room acoustics perform to maximize the full potential of the room for all those using it.

Sound Insulation and Noise Break In/ Out

Room Acoustics | Sound Insulation

Noise break in/out occurs where inadequately designed partitions, doors, glazing or adjoining services are incorporated into room design.

Walls, floors and ceilings should be designed and constructed to suit the application of the room or space. Where guidance is available this should be followed and noise source levels considered within this calculation.
The weak spot for any wall will be an area of glazing or doors within the structure. The main area of weakness will be the seals between the door leaf and frame/floor, with final designs taken all these factors into account.
Ductwork between offices can also be an issue if left unattenuated as this will allow sound to travel between adjoining rooms.

Sound insulation can be improved through alterations to the existing structure, however this can be an expensive process and we always advise that this is considered at the planning and design stage to avoid unnecessary expense or downtime in the future.


Reverberation is the build up of sound energy as it reflects off hard spaces within a room or space. The level is calculated by measuring the sound levels once the source has been turned off, as it decays by 60dB. The levels are then shown in seconds.

Treatment for reverberation is simple and can be easily undertaken as remedial or refurbishment works although it is generally easier (and cheaper) if undertaken as part of the planning and design process. Reverberation is reduced by the use of porous acoustic panels (usually foam or mineral fibre based products) applied to the walls and ceiling. The reverberation levels and area of treatment can easily be calculated or simulated in the majority of cases, although complex-shaped or high-performance rooms can be more complicated.

Acoustic Products | Acoustic Ceiling Treatment

With extensive experience in assessing and specifying the appropriate acoustic solution for each project,
AEI Acoustics can help ensure your room meets the expectations for you and the end user.

Click on the button below to find out more, visit our website https://aeiacoustics.co.uk or call us (01777 717 281) for more information.